Category Archives : Artificial Intelligence



Conversational AI updates for July 2019

At Build, we highlighted a few customers who are building conversational experiences using the Bot Framework to transform their customer experiences. For example, BMW discussed its work on the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to deliver conversational experiences across multiple canvases by leveraging the Bot Framework and Cognitive Services. LaLiga built their own virtual assistant which allows fans to experience and interact with LaLiga across multiple platforms.

With the Bot Framework release in July, we are happy to share new releases of Bot Framework SDK 4.5 and preview of 4.6, updates to our developer tools, and new channels in Azure Bot Service. We’ll use the opportunity to provide additional updates for the Conversational AI releases from Microsoft.

Bot Framework channels

We continue to expend channels support and functionality for Bot Framework and Azure Bot Service.

Voice-first bot applications: Direct Line Speech preview

The Microsoft Bot Framework lets you connect with your users wherever your users are. We offer thirteen supported channels, including popular messaging apps like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Kik, as well as a growing number of community adapters.

Today, we are happy to share the preview of Direct Line Speech channel. This is a new channel




Direct Line with speech now available in preview

With over 360,000 registered Azure Bot Service developers, we’ve seen significant growth in bots and virtual assistants built on Azure. A major trend we’re following is the growing need for these assistants to support voice-first conversational experiences. As a result, we’re taking steps to make it even easier for developers to build virtual assistants with our virtual assistant solution accelerator and to add speech to their conversational applications with Azure Bot Service.

At this year’s Microsoft Build conference, we announced signup availability of the Direct Line Speech channel, which simplifies the creation of end-to-end solutions for voice-first conversational experiences. Today, we’re happy to share that the Direct Line Speech channel is now in preview for any developer with no additional signup or approval required. With this release, the Direct Line Speech channel has also significantly expanded its region support to enable faster and more reliable conversational experiences worldwide.

About Direct Line Speech

Direct Line Speech is a new channel that simplifies the creation of end-to-end solutions for voice-in and voice-out natural user interfaces with a few key components:

An on-device API, available as part of the Speech SDK, simplifies speech and real-time supplementary signal communication to and from a




Exploring the Micorosoft Healthcare Bot partner program

This post was co-authored by Hadas Bitran, Group Manager, Microsoft Healthcare Israel.

Every day, healthcare organizations are beginning their digital transformation journey with the Microsoft Healthcare Bot Service built on Azure. The Healthcare Bot service empowers healthcare organizations to build and deploy an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered, compliant, conversational healthcare experience at scale. The service combines built-in medical intelligence with natural language capabilities, extensibility tools, and compliance constructs, allowing healthcare organizations such as providers, payers, pharma, HMOs, and telehealth to give people access to trusted and relevant healthcare services and information.

Healthcare organizations can leverage the Healthcare Bot Service on their digital transformation journey today, as we announced in our blog Microsoft Healthcare Bot brings conversational AI to healthcare. That’s why we are so happy to share more information on the Healthcare Bot Service partner program. Our Healthcare Bot certified partners empower healthcare organizations to successfully deploy virtual assistants on the Microsoft Healthcare Bot service. Working with an official partner, healthcare organizations can achieve the full potential of the Microsoft Healthcare Bot by leveraging the expertise and experience of partners who understand the business needs and challenges in healthcare.

This new program is open to existing Microsoft partners that support




Analyze AI enriched content with Azure Search’s knowledge store

Through integration with Cognitive Services APIs, Azure Search has long had the ability to extract text and structure from images and unstructured content. Until recently, this capability was used exclusively in full text search scenarios, exemplified in demos like the JFK files which analyzes diverse content in JPEGs and makes it available for online search. The journey from visual unstructured content, to searchable structured content is enabled by a feature called cognitive search. This capability in Azure Search is now extended with the addition of a knowledge store that saves enrichments for further exploration and analysis beyond search itself.

The knowledge store feature of Azure Search, available in preview, refers to a persistence layer in cognitive search that describes a physical expression of documents created through AI enrichments. Enriched documents are projected into tables or hierarchical JSON, which you can explore using any client app that is able to access Azure Storage. In Azure Search itself, you define the physical expression or shape of the projections in the knowledge store settings within your skillset.

Customers are using a knowledge store (preview) in diverse ways, such as to validate the structure and accuracy of enrichments, generate training data for AI models,




Enable receipt understanding with Form Recognizer’s new capability

One of the newest members of the Azure AI portfolio, Form Recognizer, applies advanced machine learning to accurately extract text, key-value pairs, and tables from documents. With just a few samples, it tailors its understanding to supplied documents, both on-premises and in the cloud. 

Introducing the new pre-built receipt capability

Form Recognizer focuses on making it simpler for companies to utilize the information hiding latent in business documents such as forms. Now we are making it easier to handle one the most commonplace documents in a business, receipts, “out of the box.”  Form Recognizer’s new pre-built receipt API identifies and extracts key information on sales receipts, such as the time and date of the transaction, merchant information, the amounts of taxes, totals, and more, with no training required.

Streamlining expense reporting

Business expense reporting can be cumbersome for everyone involved in the process. Manually filling out and approving expense reports is a significant time sink for both employees and managers. Aside from productivity lost to expense reporting, there are also pain points around auditing expense reports. A solution to automatically extract merchant and transaction information from receipts can significantly reduce the manual effort of reporting and auditing expenses.





Automate MLOps workflows with Azure Machine Learning service CLI

This blog was co-authored by Jordan Edwards, Senior Program Manager, Azure Machine Learning

This year at Microsoft Build 2019, we announced a slew of new releases as part of Azure Machine Learning service which focused on MLOps. These capabilities help you automate and manage the end-to-end machine learning lifecycle.

Historically, Azure Machine Learning service’s management plane has been via its Python SDK. To make our service more accessible to IT and app development customers unfamiliar with Python, we have delivered an extension to the Azure CLI focused on interacting with Azure Machine Learning.

While it’s not a replacement for the Azure Machine Learning service Python SDK, it is a complimentary tool that is optimized to handle highly parameterized tasks which suit themselves well to automation. With this new CLI, you can easily perform a variety of automated tasks against the machine learning workspace, including:

Datastore management Compute target management Experiment submission and job management Model registration and deployment

Combining these commands enables you to train, register their model, package it, and deploy your model as an API. To help you quickly get started with MLOps, we have also released a predefined template in Azure Pipelines. This template allows you




Using natural language processing to manage healthcare records

The next time you see your physician, consider the times you fill in a paper form. It may seem trivial, but the information could be crucial to making a better diagnosis. Now consider the other forms of healthcare data that permeate your life—and that of your doctor, nurses, and the clinicians working to keep patients thriving. Forms and diagnostic reports are just two examples. The volume of such information is staggering, yet fully utilizing this data is key to reducing healthcare costs, improving patient outcomes, and other healthcare priorities. Now, imagine if artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to help the situation.

The Azure platform offers a wealth of services for partners to enhance, extend, and build industry solutions. Here we describe how SyTrue, a Microsoft partner focusing on healthcare uses Azure to empower healthcare organizations to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes.

Billions of records

Valuable insights remain locked in unstructured medical records such as scanned documents in PDF format that, while human-readable, present a major obstacle to the automation and analytics required. Over four billion medical notes are created every year. The clinical and financial insights embodied within these records are needed by an average of




Customers get unmatched security with Windows Server and SQL Server workloads in Azure

Customers such as Allscripts, Chevron, J.B. Hunt, and thousands of others are migrating their important workloads to Azure where they find unmatched security. While understanding cloud security is initially a concern to many, after digging in, customers often tell us the security posture they can set up within Azure is easier to implement and far more comprehensive than what they can provide for in other environments.

Azure delivers multiple layers of security, from the secure foundation in our physical datacenters, to our operational practices, to engineering processes that follow industry standard Mitre guidelines. On top of that, customers can choose from a variety of self-service security services that work for both Azure and on-premises workloads. We employ more than 3,500 cybersecurity professionals and spend $1 billion annually on security to help protect, detect, and respond to threats – delivering security operations that work 24x7x365 for our customers.

Let’s look at some examples of how Azure delivers unmatched security for your Windows Server and SQL Server workloads.

The broadest built-in protections across hybrid environments with Azure Security Center

Customers can get the broadest built-in protection available across both cloud and on-premises through Azure Security Center. This includes security recommendations for virtual



Jun blog post was co-authored by Parashar Shah, Senior Program Manager, Applied AI Developer COGS. When data scientists work on building a machine learning model, their experimentation often produces lots of metadata: metrics of models you tested, actual model files, READ MORE




Accelerating smart building solutions with cloud, AI, and IoT

Throughout our Internet of Things (IoT) journey we’ve seen solutions evolve from device-centric models, to spatially-aware solutions that provide real-world context. Last year at Realcomm | IBcon, we announced Azure IoT’s vision for spatial intelligence, diving into scenarios that uniquely join IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and productivity tools. In the year since, we’ve progressed this vision by introducing new services designed to help enterprise customers across industries optimize the management of their spaces. Across Azure, Dynamics, and Office, Microsoft continues to accelerate results from a growing and diverse set of partners creating smart building solutions on our industry-leading enterprise platform.

This year we’ve returned to Realcomm | IBcon, joined by over 30 partners who have delivered innovative solutions using our spatial intelligence and device security services to provide safety to construction sites, operate buildings more efficiently, utilize space more effectively, and boost occupant productivity and satisfaction. Here we’ll tell you more about a selection of these smart building partners who are accelerating digital transformation in their industries.


IoT is an invaluable part of the smart building lifecycle, even before the building comes to fruition. On construction sites, it’s imperative for companies to prioritize employee safety while ensuring the job